Archive for March 2013


Prop 1

Skimming across the surface of a placid bay, the boat company rep explains the advantages of his product.  He mentions that with this particular craft a change in the prop can improve performance.

Just how does the pitch of a prop or the content material affect the performance of a boat?  If a prop specialist knows the desired performance the boat, he will tune the prop to get the highest level of performance out of the craft.

In choosing a prop for a boat, manufacturers will recommend a range of rpm.  The prop will govern that range.  The prop specialist tries to set up a boat at the top end of the recommended range.  Every one degree of pitch is worth 250 rpms.

Usually when you drop down in pitch, a little bit of speed is lost.  However, the hole-shot will be a lot better.  It seems that is the concern of most anglers.  Some people really want that top end speed.  If one is in shallow water, the hole-shot is what will get you out.  If you sit there and plow in the water, you will be hitting everything underneath the surface.  That includes rocks, stumps etc.  A good hole-shot will get you out.

The diameter of the prop is another consideration.  Every 1/4 inch of diameter is worth 150 rpms.  If you have a boat motor, that is a little high on rpms and you want a quick fix, just shave the prop down 1/4 inch.  That will bring the rpms back up.

The surface area of a prop is critical and different on pontoon boats.  A bass boat style prop does not have much blade surface.  The more blade surface you can turn the more rpms.  Pontoon boats need a motor that will push it not lift it like a bass boat.  They need more blade surface and a lower rake.  The rake is what creates lift on your boat.  There is a steep rake angle for bass boats because you want to lift the bass boat out of the water.  A low rake angle of five to a 0-degree rake is for pontoon boats requiring push not lift.  Owners of pontoon boats want to take all their motor horsepower and put it toward pushing.  Pontoon props will have a low rake and a lot of blade surface.

When buying a boat, manufacturers install the prop that will be of benefit to the customer for any area of boating he seeks.  Then it is up to the customer to determine what more he wants from his boat.  When the customer talks to the salesperson, it is up to him to explain what use he plans for the boat and where he will use it.  Usually, the dealer will have a good idea from other customers as to what prop to install.

The customer who is bass fishing in the shallow waters is bound to hit something eventually.  Just a nick in a prop blade you will lose about 3 mph.  Just a nick that you can feel with your finger will cause it to cavatate.  The cavitation is bubbling.   When the blade slices through the water, it needs a nice clean slice.  If you get the nicks on there the slicing is creating those bubbles your performance suffers.  It is grabbing in spongy water.  It is not going to have that true bite needed for performance.

A prop with a nice clean edge on it will always have a clean bite.  That is where you get your performance.  It does not have to be a sharp edge just a clean one.

Prop shops receive them bent, gouged or even with a tear in the blades.  Once welded they usually will run better than right out of the factory.  That is because every blade is true to each other.  Factory-produced blades are not always exactly alike and true.  Manufacturers recommend the tuning of props.

Tuning is taking every blade and making them the same.  In the pitch, one-degree difference is 150 rpms.  Props can be two to three degrees off from each other.  If each blade is exactly true, it makes props run more effectively.

If a person is serious about his boat performance, the first thing to do when he gets delivery of the boat is to take the prop off and get it tuned.  There are people who spend thousands on their motor to beef it up when all they really have to do is focus on the prop.

In general, props are usually repairable.  They can have extensive damage.  As long as it is still attached, the blade is repairable.

When it comes to maintenance, keep the blades edges clean by using a file on them.  For the traveling angler the file keeps those nicks off.  Nicks kill performance.  As long as the nicks are small, a file used on them will not affect the balance significantly.

Balance is critical for high performance.  There can be a little bit of a vibration.  Unfortunately, extreme vibration will ruin a prop.  It is better to install a new prop.


Obey Scenic 0012

Peering through the pre-dawn mists all that is visible is the road slipping away down to the launching area far below.  Once at the river, it looks like there is not enough water to float a frog.

We drop the aluminum boats into the water and motor off under power by trolling motors.  The larger outboard motors, mounted on the stern, tilt up to avoid damage to the props and lower units from the many large rocks.

Somewhere off to the left, Celina, Tennessee, the Dale Hollow Dam and the National Fish Hatchery lie concealed in fog.  At least that is what they say.

DaleHollowLakeDam takes cold water from the bottom of the lake and dispels it down stream in the ObeyRiver.  During the warm months of the year, the lake above the dam stratifies with warm water above, cool water next and cold water on the bottom.  The cold water does not support native warm water species that once swam in this area.

To meet the need of recreational anglers, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service raises rainbow and brown trout and releases them in the downstream water.  Due to poor recruitment, the hatchery is necessary to provide a continuing source of fish.

Some trout live above the dam in creek and river channels.  Spring finds them in the back of coves and creeks.  Anglers pursue them with casting spoons, crankbaits and spinners.  In the winter they are in shallow water and will take crankbaits.  The balance of the year they are in deep water where they can be tempted to attack live bait trolled on down-riggers.

August through September seems to be the best time for trout fishing below the dam in the tailwaters.  The dam generates power from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and again from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.  It is during this period that floating the river is best.

We used primarily Kastmaster spoons, Road Runners, and small crankbaits.  Both produced fish but the Kastmaster and Road Runners were the most productive.  I suspect that other small crankbaits and spinners would yield results.  Almost any minnow imitation can attract fall trout stocking up for cold weather to come.  We put a small split shot about two feet above the spoons to add a little weight on the 4 pound monofilament line.

Most anglers prefer to drift and cast to shoreline cover and some of the deeper holes when the water is low.   We cast upstream of holes and allowed the lure to be carried downstream while still on a tight line.

By the end of the generating period the water begins to fall again and it is time to get off the river or pole a long way back to the launch area.  Along the shore are a few locations where locals will walk down to the river from a county road.  On this day, the few that we saw were fishing a river rig.  It was a 3-foot leader with a size 6 hook at the end and attached to a 3-way swivel.  The other rig of the swivel is attached to a 2-foot leader with a ½-ounce sinker.  The third ring attaches to the main line that leads back to the angler.

Spinning gear was the preferred drift boating tackle.  Light line and medium action rods worked well.  The clear line of monofilament is very effective in the gin clear water.

Both rainbow and brown trout live in this stretch of the river.  However, the rainbows far out number the browns.  We caught only a couple of browns but the battle was worth it.  A lot of rainbows took our spoons.

A morning on the river came to an end with the siren from the dam indicating that it would shut down soon.  The resulting drop in the water level would have made it tough to get back upstream to the vehicles.  With the water at high level, it was just a matter of dropping the big motor into the river and motoring back in a few minutes.

For more information about Dale Hollow Lake, the fish hatchery and the ObeyRiver, contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District in Celina, TN at 931-243-3408.




Someday Isle is not a place it is a state of mind.  The isle is a place to put on your “Bucket List”.  It can be a place or maybe it is specific species you want to pursue in wood or water.

You hear the someday isle symptoms where ever outdoorsmen gather.  It comes out especially prominent in sport shows during the winter.  It is the “dream trips” that spur the most someday isle comments.

Someday isle is really just a substitute for action.  If one plans and works toward a specific goal, he will get to someday isle.

Would you purchase a home built by a contractor without the use of a blueprint?  Of course not!  But, that is exactly how many of us approach out fishing activities each year.  We don’t set any goal or make a specific action plan.  The end result is often frustration at not finding fish or fish that is inferior to what we seek.

Planning and goal setting are keys to successful fishing.  Some anglers are satisfied with just being away from home and to loaf.  Sometimes that is the goal.  But, most of the time we want that lunker bass, or a limit of panfish.  Attaining that goal means planning in advance.

The first consideration is what species you are seeking.  Many areas are famous for good populations of a particular kind of fish.  Southern Illinois is home to some of the state’s best panfish and bass angling.

By being selective about the species, you cut down the number of places to visit.  Then focus on the quality of the fishing experience for more fun.

It helps to read and talk to people who also fish for these species.  Find out what experiences they have had and where they recommend.  Then narrow your search to a location that falls within your budget and time considerations.  If you only have a weekend, it makes no sense to spend half of it getting there and back.   Southern Illinois fishing locations are within a few hours of most of the state.

Learn all you can about the area and the water your fishing.  That is, unless you are an expert on fishing strange waters.  Obtain information from local bait shops, fish and wildlife offices, resort owners or the local tourism bureau.  They all want you to have a good outdoor experience in their area so that you will tell others.  They want you and your friends to come back again and again.  Nothing is worse for their business than an unhappy visitor.

Establish the full cost of the trip and just what services you need and who can provide them for that cost.  Plan early, do the legwork, and you too will have a great time on “Someday Isle”.



Family Fishing 0028

Traveling across the lake on one of those bluebird days the hum of the engine is hypnotic.  The fishing pro is handling the driving chores.  His nephew riding in the front has his head down to prevent the wind from taking his hat off.

Suddenly there is a bump.  Had we hit a submerged rock?  Lying on the deck amid a pile of tackle boxes, I have the wind is knocked out of me.  “Are you alright?” asks the driver of the boat frantically.  Words cannot get out of my mouth in reply or a second or two.

Voices come from somewhere asking if everyone was OK.  A female voice asks “Why?”  Rising to where I can see what was going on, it appears we have struck another boat.  To add to the confusion the nephew is missing from the front of the boat along with his pedestal seat.

He is about 20 feet out, treading water and his pedestal seat is floating nearby.

We struck a boat in wide open water, on a clear day, and we had never seen it.  It was like one of those traffic accidents where someone emerges into an intersection without seeing an oncoming car.

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.  Bruises and broken glasses were the major toll.  The boats were another thing.  Two perfectly good boats had holes in them and one had a smashed motor.  The last word from the insurance company is both boat are totaled.

That boating accident few years ago was my first.  Not only was it the first but it was the first one in which involved anyone I had personally known.  Water can be very dangerous and some common sense requires that the boater be careful with his actions on it.

The most common accidents are due to such things as overloading, sudden shifts in weight, or weather conditions.  Hypothermia or sudden loss of body heat due to a dunking into cold water is the contributing cause of most deaths from drowning that occur in the early season.  Hypothermia is a condition when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it.  The result is that the body core loses temperature and the victim may become a blue‑gray color with violent shivering.  One may have muscle spasms and even lose the use of arms and legs.

If dumped into water that is less than 70 degrees hypothermia will take place.  Get back into the boat as fast a possible to minimize the effects.  Thrashing around in cold water leads to exhaustion and swirling water draws heat from the body.  Once in the boat, do not drink alcohol or massage the body to treat hypothermia.  Keep the wet clothing on as it holds body heat like a diver’s wet suit.

Treatment of hypothermia involves getting heat back into the body to raise the temperature of the inner core.  Warm moist towels applied to the head and body are a good idea.  Hot water bottles inside a blanket are good.  On land if the victim is conscious, a hot bath is fine.

Skin to skin contact and mouth to mouth resuscitation will transfer heat to the victim.

Many victims of hypothermia will lose consciousness and may even appear to be dead.  Even if the victim has been under water for a considerable time and shows no signs of life, it is still sometimes possible to resuscitate them.  Begin CPR immediately and get the victim to a hospital as soon as possible.

Perhaps the best way to practice boating safety is to be prepared in advance.  This includes having good Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s).  They very well may save your life.  If wearing a PFD and you fall into the water, do not try to swim to shore.  If you cannot get back in the boat then practice the heat escape lessening position (H.E.L.P.).  Cross your ankles, cross arms over your chest, craw knees to the chest, lean back and try to relax.  This fetal position, with the head out of the water reduces the body heat escape to the water by 50 percent.

Some other tips for boating safety include some common sense applications to the boat and motor.  One should make sure that all of the equipment is in tip top shape before going out.  Have some knowledgeable person go over the boat, motor and trailer.  Carry paddles, extra spark plugs, a tool kit, rope and an anchor.  In cold weather add deicer to the fuel.  Use the running lights and carry a sealed floating type flashlight.

On a more personal note, it is a good idea to carry some matches in a stay dry container.  It would be a good idea to have a change of clothes in a plastic bag tied into the boat.  The wearing of flotation clothes or PFD at all times is good sense.

Boating safety is no accident.  Always tell someone of your trip plans so they will know where to look for you if you fail to return on time.  If something unfortunate does happen, do not panic and use good common sense.  It would be a good idea to take a boat safety course in advance.  The U.S. Coast Guard maintains a Boating Safety Hotline at l‑800‑368‑5647 for more information about boat safety.  They will be happy to provide literature at no cost to the angler.

In addition, the Kalkomey Enterprise company has an online program of safety information sites with one called  It is a free service and very interesting.

2,000 AND CLIMBING   Leave a comment

057823-R1-43-43  Today this blog reached the readership level of 2,000.  I am deeply indebted to the members of the outdoor community who have helped me to reach so many people and to the people who have enjoyed the exploits and travel of both myself and my friends.

My plan is to continue to with the blog.  My recent accident has curtailed my travels the first quarter of the year.  But, I am on the mend and will soon hit the trail again with fishing and hunting trips.

Til then thank you for your support.

Don Gasaway



TJ Stallings has a reputation in the industry for his humor.  He is in charge of marketing and crazy ideas for TTI Fishing Group, makes of Road Runner Lures and other terminal tackle.  Many outdoor writers fall victim every year to his practical jokes.  But, he is probably the most knowledgeable fishing techniques expert in the industry.  Over the years I have learned much and been a victim once or twice.

When he suggested that I go fishing on Lake Kinkaid to learn how to “dock shoot.”  I was not sure if I was on a “snipe hunt” or not.

It was no snipe hunt.  I learned a very valuable fishing technique from TJ and Russ Bailey of MidWest Crappie TV Show.

Dock shooting is no a crazy idea by a long shot.  No pun intended.  It is a technique for crappie anglers to get small jigs and Road Runner lures into tight pockets near man-made structures and boats as well as under overhanging vegetation.  It is a combination of finesse and special tackle that allows you to get back under the dock where fish seek refuge from the sun in summer.  In winter they go there to find warmer water.

“You get a comfortable stance,” explains Stallings.  “Then you point the rod at the spot where you think a fish will be lurking.”  He then holds the lure in one hand and bends the rod down in an arc before letting go without snagging his fingers on the hook.  Sounds simple but it takes a special rod, some practice, and skill to master this technique.

Russ and TJ like the 5 ½ foot Sharpshooter rod from BnM Fishing.  It is an ultra-light rod of 100% graphite with a solid backbone.  It has the right amount of flexibility.  An advantage of this rod is the ability to move the cork handle to a position that is most comfortable for the fisherman.  In case of icing of the rod guides in very cold weather you can spray a little Reel Magic on them and the line will move smoothly through them.

Once on the water, we move to a series of boat docks where pleasure boaters have placed their craft for the winter.  It is quiet in the winter sun and there is no wind.  Russ is looking for pontoon boats to fish in winter.  The aluminum of the tubes warms faster than other materials such as fiberglass.

Russ finds different size fish will seek refuge under each tube of the same craft.  You never know until a couple of fish are caught, exactly what size fish are lurking under the tube.

Another tip from Russ looking for cobwebs between the boat and the dock.  It means that no one else has fished there recently.  He likes to fish the Road Runner lures without a float.  He uses a float often when fishing a jig.  The Road Runner drops down with the blade fluttering like a wounded minnow.

The float for jig fishing is usually an ice fishing float.  It must be small but barely able to suspend the jig at the depth desired.  He likes the type of float that is large at the top and tapers down toward the terminal end of the line.

Six pound Hi Vis line is Russ’s preference.  He lets it play out and the cork settles into position.  Any sudden change in the position of the float usually indicates a fish has taken it.  For example, the float may be pulled beneath the surface or it might just tip over.  The first position indicates a fish is taking it toward the bottom.  The second means he is taking it upward toward the surface.  Also the float may move to the side away from where it has been sitting if a fish is on the hook.


Smallie 0001

Float trips are notorious tackle busters.  As with all river fishing trips, the multitude of sub-surface obstacles tend to take a heavy toll on the angler’s equipment and patience.  But, with the right ultra-light gear, setting the hook on a smallmouth bass is all the excitement one can desire.

To the hard core river fisherman floating for smallmouth is close to heaven.  Setting out in a flat bottom Jon boat, one gently floats downstream.

The trip is interrupted only by stops to wade in riffles and cast to deep pools in search of fish.  A shore lunch of panfish fresh from the river can be an awesome break.

The shoreline of most Missouri streams contains numerous stands of Sycamores standing guard over the gravel bars, lotus pads, and water willow.

The rocky bottoms are conducive to the development of a good smallmouth fishery.  Usually present are goggle eye (rock bass), pumpkinseed sunfish, bluegill, creek chubs, shiners and bullheads.

As with most steam fishing, the secret to find fish seems to be casting to an overhanging tree.  Shady locations during sunny periods prove the most prolific.  If the location also contains rock structure or gravel chances for a strike improve.

Other wood structures are worthy of investigation with a cast or two.  The wood can be either a lay down in the water or an exposed root system on the shore.

Rock ledges on shore will usually continue into the water.  Often smallmouth will use them to rest between forages into the fast water in search of some hapless minnow or a crayfish.  Any type of structure near a main stream channel is worthy of exploration.  Eddy areas are prime locations.

A second day of fishing might result in changed fishing conditions and a need to change lures.  On the first day the bite might typically be basic topwater with small crankbaits producing the fish.  Such a day might be cloudy and rainy.  Creek water is usually shallow for the most part.  Day two might be sunny and bright.  The fish will go deep and lures requiring a lure change to dark jigs and double-tailed grubs.  These work best in deep pools and long stretches of broad shallow flats.

River fishermen are accustomed to the high mortality of their terminal tackle.  It is a cost of the sport.  To the novice it seem that great deal of tackle winds up stuck in the submerged wood or wedged in a crack between rocks.

Because drift anglers prefer light tackle the ultra-light rods and four to six pound test monofilament line are popular.  Such tackle lends itself to loss.  Lures seldom exceed one quarter ounce with most being 1/16th to 1/8th ounce.  Such small lures will find small areas in which to get stuck.

Drift fishing is a festival of fishing experiences.  The long shallow riffles, contrasted with deep rock strewn runs and board deep pools challenge anglers of all ranges of experience.  Floating is the only way to visit the entire range.



FISHIN-BARGE-22-DLX_img13685_700Doing the spring clean up for a pontoon boat is not too different from any other watercraft.  Just bigger!

Winter boat shows have buyers looking over some pontoon boats.  It is then that it occurs to some to check out the maintenance on such a craft.  That is important since it usually will become a crew of one to carry out that little chore each spring.

Much of the upkeep from year to year is the same for any craft.  However, in recent years the wiring systems and engines require less upkeep on behalf of the owner.  Still there are inspections that owners must do to prevent trouble later on while on the water.

The first task will be to wash down the entire boat as it spends the winter in the backyard with only a boat cover to protect it.  After inspecting for some critter who may have taken up residence, pressure wash it to remove the mold and dirt from a wet winter.

While the boat dries, turn to the trailer.  Check the wheel bearings.  If lubrication is necessary, it just takes a grease gun.

Check the ties for proper pressure and tread wear.  A quick check for break wear is a good idea.  Check the bunks for excessive wear and tear, as is the tow strap.  Examine the safety straps replace them at minimal cost.  The safety chains and hitch ball will have in good condition.  Trailer lights and navigational lights will need to be in working order and spare bulbs purchased.  If the bulb is good but the light still does not work, clean the bulb socket.  If that does not solve the problem, check the wiring harness for damage.  Never skimp on safety items.

Check the PFD’s and fire extinguishers.  Check the date on the extinguisher and signal flares as they do have a shelf life.  Clean up the first aid kit and signaling kit and replace items that look worn or outdated.

By this point, the boat should be dry enough to work on.  Check the “toons” for deterioration or damage.  The same applies for all rails, cleats, gates, etc.   Anything that needs repair or replacement, do immediately.

Clean the live wells and rod locker with a little 409 and deodorized with some baking soda.  All the vinyl needs cleaning.  The carpets also need cleaning.  Clean out and deodorize all the storage lockers.

Turning to the engine and controls, inspect all cables, wiring or kinds, bends and rust.  It is important to be sure the electrical system has lines properly insulated and that all connections are tight.  Recharge the batteries and clean the gauges as well as check them for accuracy.

Finally, check the power system.  Remove the engine cowl and clean away any dirt and debris.  Blow dust out of the engine with a turkey baster.  Just squeeze the bulb and the air coming out the other end will blow away the dust.

Check the engine wires and spark plugs.  It is a good idea to replace the plug annually.  Squeeze the fuel lines.  If they are spongy, rotting or are hard as a rock, it is an indication that it is time to replace them.

Check the fuel system to make sure there is no water or condensation in to it.  A fresh fuel up is a good idea.  Lubricate the gears of the lower unit.  It is a simple but necessary annual procedure.  After that pull the prop and grease the shaft splines.  If damaged, take the boat to the dealer for work.  File off miner nicks in the prop.  Major ones mean a new prop.

Looking at this list it is surprising that something as large as a pontoon boat does not require much more upkeep than the family bass boat.  Nevertheless, a boat is a boat when it comes to maintenance.



Fishing a lake with which you are unfamiliar is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  All the pieces have to be in their proper place.

Some of the considerations are such factors as water temperature, color, and level, as well as the time of the year.  There are just so many bits and pieces.

Look at seasonal patterns.  What bass should be doing at that particular time of year?  As an example if you are going to a lake in the south in early spring.  Look for flats in the backs of creeks or main lake points with cover where you could throw a suspended jerkbait.

Look for places that suit your style of fishing.  Maybe you like shallow water, stained water, stumps and things.

A good contour lake map is the best investment one can make.  However, you need to understand what you are reading.  Know what the contour lines mean.  Know how to read the map, understand what is there, and how bass relate to it.  Heavy vegetation can also affect the choice of lures.

Base lure selection on seasonal patterns.  If it is pre-spawn then have crankbaits, Rat-L-Traps, spinner baits and jerk baits tied on your lines.  If it is more summer time, more deep-diving crankbaits, jigs, and things like Carolina rigs are required.

Is there a go to bait to use when all else fails, one might chose a 3/8th ounce spinner bait.  A shallow to medium diving crankbait might be good in the spring with bass in a pre-spawn to spawn phase.

Most bass anglers in a bind will pick up a spinnerbait with tandem silver blades or a shallow to a medium diving crankbait and just throw to cover.

As for color, one might go to a white or blue skirt on the spinnerbait.  If the water is not too muddy, go with tandem willow-leaf blades.  A number 4 is good.  If the bite is slow, try a six-inch plastic worm.



If you have a deck boat, bass boat, house boat, or Jon boat it may be time to replace your trailer.  Before buying a new boat trailer check out some of the following suggestions.

Having the correct type of trailer can make your life much more enjoyable when you want to move your boat.  If the boat and trailer are not correctly matched, trailering a boat to and from the water, launching and retrieving can be a profile in misery.

With the right trailer you never know it is behind you.  If it is not properly set up and adjusted you notice problems right away.

For example, too much tongue weight can cause excessive swaying as you travel down the road.  If the bunks or roller are not properly adjusted getting the boat in and out of the water can be difficult.  It can actually lead to hull damage to your boat.

Boat trailers are equipped with bunks or rollers as support for the boat.  Check with the boat manufacturer or dealer to see what they recommend for your particular type of boat.

It is a good idea to check to see if the trailer is NMMA- certified.  There are industry guidelines that make sure the trailer is quality and that the structure is safe.

A boat’s trailering weight, width and length are the main factors used in selecting a proper trailer.  Check the weight limit the trailer can safely handle.  Compare that number with the listed weight of the boat and motor.

As you figure up the weight remember to include the weight of the engine, fuel and all of your gear.  Fuel weighs about 7 pounds per gallon.  As you figure the length of the boat measure it on the centerline.

On many trailers the bunks, the winch post, and even the axle can be adjusted to accommodate the different types of boats.  If they are adjusted properly launching and loading will be easier.

Before you purchase a trailer keep in mind the type of vehicle you will use to tow it.  The owner’s manual of the vehicle will offer recommendations and instructions.  Also be sure the hitch ball on you tow vehicle is the same size as the coupler hitch on the trailer.

One final consideration is the minimum safe stopping distance of your vehicle and the trailer package.  Many people are not aware of how hard it can be to stop when towing a vehicle without trailer breaks.  The small cost of adding trailer brakes to your trailer package provides a lot of protection for your investment.

Most states require brakes on trailers with a gross vehicle weight rating of 3,000 pounds or more.

Having the proper trailer package to go with your boat and tow vehicle will go a long way toward a safe and comfortable boating summer.

%d bloggers like this: